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Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:01 am

Wow! Thanks everyone for all the feedback!

I think what I am leaning towards is the following:

Toss-up between:
1. Fujiwara Carbon $73 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fujiwara210.html - although they list the spine as 3.8mm (that has to be a typo, no?)

2. Kohetsu Blue 2 - $99 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohetsublue1.html - there is no bolster... not sure how that will feel in the hand

3. Hiromoto Blue Super - $141 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/higy21.html - much more than the others, but is Super Blue is the way to go, this seems like the best deal. A little concerned about it being to beefy. Thoughts?

4. Yamashin White #1 - $90 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1gy21.html - seems like White #1 can take an edge like no other. Dan recommended the Goko W1, but they are all OOS. This was the only W1 on the website in my price-range. I watched a video on this site of someone with a Goko W1 slicing a tomato with just the weight of the blade - impressive, but I have no idea if that type of performance will translate to this knife, even if it is similar construction. Anyone have any thoughts on this knive - especially compared to the others?

5. The wildcard as it is the only SS: Goko Damascus - $99 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/goko.html - really leaning towards a carbon blade, but this is simply very appealing - super thin, light (does this qualify as a "laser"?), great price. And it looks cool as a bonus. How hard is this to sharpen properly (given that I am a novice)?

I guess the more I thought about it, the better is seemed to purchase a little less on the blade, and invest the saved money in some good sharpening stones (but I am willing to step up to the Hiromoto if the consensus is it is a better knife). Based on the feedback everyone provided, it looks like all these knives are good, just different.

Again, any help differentiating among these would be greatly appreciated.


Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:24 am

1) I just looked at the spine on my Fujiwara 240mm, it appears thinner than my Kohetsu, listed at 2.76, and a touch thicker than my Tojiro DP at 2.2. However these measurements are at the spine and you have to really have poor knife skills to need to cut with that side ;) My Fujiwara is probably the best performer I own at the <$100 range.

2) This is a new knife. Great steel. The Richmond/Kohetsu lineup has a strong reputation, but I have not seen much info on these yet.

3) There is no end-all-be-all steel but Aogami Super is very good. As I said in my earlier post, at the ~$100 price point there is a list of knives that always come up; at the $150+ range, a different list comes up and the Hiromoto is always on that list. Having not handled the knife, I cannot comment on thinness, etc.

4) Might recommend against this one if you are not familiar with sharpening yet. These are good knives, but the price reflects the fact that for many users these are sort of project knives.

5) I consider this a laser. On paper, a bit harder to sharpen than most carbon steels, but I would not consider the difference significant enough to shy away from this knife. It is very thin and can be damaged with poor knife technique.

If it were me...I would get the Hiromoto (again, have not used it, but I would love to have one) for a lifetime investment or the Fujiwara to keep the budget down and leave room for some water stones. You will be very well served by learning to sharpen.

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:21 am

the hiromoto is a great knife, the steel is better than the fujiwara fkh. I own both, the fujiwara is easier to sharpen and is a touch thinner behind the edge, fit and finish is good on both, the hiro is stainless clad and will look amazing when it starts to patina, it will get sharper and hold it a bit better, u would probably not notice a difference until you've used them both for a while. my idea of retention differs from a home user, I bang my knives around day in and out on poly boards 90% of the time. both are excellent choices, I would spend the 70$ on the fujiwara and get some stones, learn to sharpen and come back in a couple months with the sickness and buy everything on the site!!! lol.. it will happen trust us!
you should consider imo the 240 if you go w the fujiwara as the 10$ price increase will not be an issue, that way it can double a bit more as a slicer for roasts and I don't think you will find it too large by any means. + in ten years it will be the size of a 210 and youll still have plenty of knife left to play with

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:19 am

"I would spend the 70$ on the fujiwara and get some stones, learn to sharpen and come back in a couple months with the sickness and buy everything on the site!!! lol.. it will happen trust us!"

This is the best advice. I was in the same position a year ago. Most of the knives you chose will serve you well and other users are certainly more educated than I am on them. That being said, this wont be your last knife. You will find little things that you like/dislike that only comes from using it. Then you can use that towards making a more informed decision the next time. I love getting advice from other users, but nothing helps learn like first hand experience. cheffiec said it best. I started with the 210 Artifex and an idahone and now have the Goko 240 damascus, a nakiri, a cck cleaver. I also finally have multiple sharpening stones on the way. It turns into a habit.

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:39 am

Seems like the OP wants a lighter feeling knife, but with some more length than his santoku. I'd bet a wa handle will give him more 'lightness', something of a middle weight contender (not a heavy workhorse, but not a laser)?

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:19 pm

Thank you everyone for all of your excellent help!

Socalboo – you are absolutely correct, but relative to my beefy Wusthof, (which I think was designed to chop concrete), any of the “workhorse” Gyuto knives should be substantially lighter and thinner.

I want a Japanese knife for the majority of my knife work (a roll currently played by my short Santoku) which mostly consists of slicing and chopping veggies, slicing chicken, pork, etc (boneless) into cutlets and other not-heavy types of knife work where precision is valued over strength. Mind you, I am not getting rid of the Wusthof, so when I want to break down a whole chicken and cut through bones, I can still grab that and not worry about damaging a delicate Japanese blade.

So final question (I hope) for everyone – I have narrowed my choices down to the Fujiwara FKH ($73) and the Kohetsu Blue #2 ($99), with an outside chance I still spring the $140 for the Hiromoto AS. Reading through loads of online forums and reviews over the last couple of days, one of the main themes that I can pick up is that that the steel itself is less important than the Blacksmith.

To that end, I am leaning towards the Kohetsu as their knives seem to be very well liked across a broad spectrum of users. (Also, it seems like a good price compromise between the Hiromoto and the Fujiwara, and unlike the Fujiwara, it has stainless cladding to make the maintenance easier) Is anyone able to chime-in on the merits of Kohetsu vs. Fujiwara?

Thanks again!

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:55 pm

I say no on the Hiromi to, I have used 240mm and owned the santoku and not impressed with. They both seem kinda of bulky for a Japanese knife. I didn't catch if are using the knife in a professional kitchen. If you are I say go with the Kohetsu you will appreciate the less maintenance with the cladding. But I liked the recommendation,Takamura-San R2 Migaki, even though the 210 is sold out. Oh here is another one that is a good price toohttp://www.chefknivestogo.com/kast24wa.html. Bottom line any one of these knives are good choice for your first japanese knife. Welcome to your new addiction :-)

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:05 pm

I have the Kohetsu 210mm here. Very thin blade, very sharp OOTB (one of the better edge OOTB that I have seen actually!). Blade performs very well (pretty much like the 210mm Kohetsu with the AS Core and Wa handle), lasers thru food like nothing. Kohetsu does make a mean Wa handled knife, the western handled knives are a touch below their Wa handled knives. My knife came with one scale very slightly longer than the other side and there is a tiny gap at the very front of the scale between the tang and handle scales. They started grinding the blade farther back on the tang and since there is little to no neck on the knife (space between the front of the handle and where the blade starts), there is a tiny gap where the blade grind starts since it is a gradual plunge cut from the tang area to the blade. A little 2 part epoxy, 5 minutes and the gap is filled. Knives with a bolster eliminate this issue, but they also cost a heck of a lot more and add a lot of weight! The handle is big enough for my hands, well shaped and the handle scale to tang F&F is MUCH better than what I usually see on the Hiromoto, Tojiro, Kikuichi, Masamoto, etc western shaped handled. This one will stay in my quiver and will most likely remain as a Western handled knife, one of the few of mine left as a Western! I think the only other one I use often is the Tojiro ITK bread knife. Blade steel is MUCH nicer than the Fujiwara carbon series and the handle is a bit nicer as well except for the area at the front of the scales. Kohetsu is known for their quality control on their heat treat cycle and often sends Mark a Heat Treat spec sheet with batches of knives, which is mainly unheard of in the Japanese knife community! The blade steel and grind performance far outweight the handle scale issue, especially at the $100 price point.

To fill the gap with the tang/scales, get some JB Kwik Weld, a razor blade, some paper towels, and Denatured Alcohol (for clean up). Mix the JB Weld, use a tooth pick to apply the JB Kwik Weld to the gap and push some into the gap. Let it set up for a minute or two and wrap the razor blade in a paper towel strip wetted with the Denatured Alcohol. Use this to wipe away the excess JB Kwik Weld at the front of the scales (wrapped razor blade lets you get a nice clean joint there and keep things level w/o the paper towel sinking into the gap and removing all of the epoxy) and around the tang, let set for another minute or two and clean with the paper towel wrapped razor blade, repeat until the JB Kwik Weld is set, takes around 4-5 minutes at 70 degrees, a little longer in cooler temps. This also works in sealing gaps in Wa handles, too :) Since the handle is set, there is no need for clamps or anything like that since you are just filling the gap there. JB Kwik Weld is fairly thick and doesn't run or drip a lot and dries a dark grey color, so it blends in with the dark scales well and is fully waterproof. It's easier to use and faster setting and less dripping/drooping than with 30 minute epoxies. Most 5 Minute epoxies aren't fully waterproof like the JB Kwik Weld is, either.

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:12 pm

Matt - just keep in mind that wa handled blades have the balance point much more (by more, it can be 20-25mm forward of where you are used it on your wustoff) forward of the handle than western blades. So although a wa-gyuto might be much lighter on the scale, the net result can be much less of a difference of 'feel' because the weight is in front. That said, I haven't used a wa-gyuto that felt heavier than some of the german chefs I used to use (and still own a few).

Yes, I think all would agree that while steel is important, how it is forged, crafted, shaped, quenched and treated is just as, if not more, important. I think you would be happy with any of those blades

The fuji is a lot thicker on the spine than the other two (3.8mm+ vs. low 2mm). The fuji is, interestingly, lighter (5.8 vs 6.4 and 6.6). For me, the Hiro is a bit short on heel height at 42mm for a 210. I'd like to see that up to 45-46mm. The Kohetsu is 45mm. Don't know about the Fuji, been awhile since I had one in my hand, and the height isn't listed on the site. I'd guess from the photo and (fading) memory, it is probably somewhere in between. If I had to make that choice, I'd take the Kohetsu. But I am not a fan of bolsters, so that might be swaying my decision. Either way is a step forward from the Wusty.

Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife

Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:19 pm

"The fuji is a lot thicker on the spine than the other two (3.8mm+ vs. low 2mm)."

I don't think this is correct. I think there may be a misprint on the product page. Unfortunately my office stuff, rulers included, are in storage right now. The Fujiwara is medium thickness, about as thin as the Tojiro DP, thinner than the Richmond Artifex, and thinner than either behind the edge OOTB.

I do like my Fujiwara, I hear good things about the Hiromoto, and Taz's recommendation for the Kohetsu Blue #2 is one I would pay attention to, he has seen far more knives than most here. I'd say you have a good final lineup, follow your gut.
Last edited by cedarhouse on Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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